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Study finds some organic foods contain high arsenic levels

The people of Albany, much like the rest of country, are trying to eat healthier and cut out some of the chemicals and processed portions of their diet by switching to organic foods. While numerous studies have found benefits in eating organic, New Yorkers may be surprised to hear that some products containing organic brown rice syrup have been found to have higher levels of arsenic than what is safe to drink in water.

Much like any consumer good, food manufacturers have a duty to ensure they are not selling tainted food products to the public. A new Dartmouth University study has shown, however, that this inorganic chemical has been found in things like cereal bars, high-energy foods and infant formulas. In many cases, the amount of arsenic is well above the legal limit for arsenic levels in drinking water.

One of the highest concentrations was found in dairy-based and soy-based infant formulas that listed the syrup as a primary ingredient. Two of the formulas had 20 times more arsenic than formulas that do not contain the sweetener. Other foods that may have high levels of arsenic included energy drinks, with eight to 17 times more arsenic than the legal limit for water, and cereal bars, with 12 times the limit.

The type of inorganic arsenic that researchers discovered has previously been linked to cancer, developmental issues in children and chronic illnesses, but some researchers believe the chemical only affects people after prolonged exposure. Unfortunately, since some of the most concentrated foods are for infants, it is unclear what kind of effect this will have on a developing child.

Organic food can be healthy and wonderful for children, but when manufacturers fail to test for tainted products, even the healthiest of foods could be dangerous. Parents should be able to expect that the food they give their newborns will not cause them problems further down the road.

Source: Health on Today, "High arsenic levels found in organic foods, baby formula," Linda Carroll, Feb. 16, 2012

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